Washington, United States | AFP | The charges against Donald Trump were read out Thursday on the US Senate floor as the historic impeachment trial of the US president got underway.
“In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional oath… Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the presidency,” Representative Adam Schiff said as he began reading from the first article of impeachment.
Trump “is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors,” added Schiff, who is one of the House managers tasked with prosecuting the case against the president.
“Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election,” Schiff added.
With the Senate formally accepting the two articles of impeachment, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was to be sworn in at 2:00 pm (1900 GMT) Thursday to preside over the trial that will address Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine.
Roberts then swears in the 100 senators, who together will serve as a court of impeachment for what is expected to be the next two weeks.
All 100 senators are required to remain seated — and silent — during the trial, and the Senate Sergeant of Arms, Michael Stenger, issued such a warning at the beginning of the proceedings.
“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,” Stenger announced. “All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, President of the United States.”
The formal proceedings carry deep historical significance, as it marks only the third time an impeachment trial has been held for a US president.
“A chill ran down my spine when Schiff said the words ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Heavy times,” tweeted Democrat Senator Chris Murphy after leaving the chamber.